Metro DC Housing Analysis 2011 03

Prince George’s County Can’t Catch a Break

April 12, 2011

(Washington, DC) – Spring has sprung along with the cherry blossoms in the nation’s capital but the housing market in nearby Prince George’s County had yet another rough month in March 2011. Of the six local markets, only Prince George’s posted a decline in its year-to-date median sales price. It fell from $164,000 as of February 28th to $159,900 as of March 31st. Compared to March 2010 when the median sales price was $190,000, the March 2011 median was only $155,000. Further, the average days on market increased 11 percent to 98 days in March. Prince George’s had the only close price to original list price ratio that declined and at 80.3 percent was also the lowest in the region. Prince George’s biggest problem though is the share of distressed homes sold each month. In March it was 71 percent, easily the highest share in metro Washington, DC.

Normal cyclical sales trends are at play – preliminary sales increased 36 percent across the region to 4,460 units in March compared to February’s revised total of 4,925. The advance was not enough though to reach the March 2010 level (when the First Time Buyer’s Credit was in full swing). The largest month-over-month percentage increase occurred in Washington, DC with a whopping 49 percent increase. The smallest was in Loudoun with 21 percent. For the first time this year, the median sales price exceeded the $300,000 bar at $305,000 measuring a healthy 6 percent increase over the February median. Montgomery County had the highest monthly increase last month to reach $331,900 (+11 percent). Washington, DC had the highest percentage increase compared to last March with $378,000 (+7 percent).

According to Loudoun-based real estate consultant Rosemary deButts, “As is often the case, February’s housing statistics were somewhat disappointing. While March is following normal cyclical patterns and had healthy increases, the sales pace and median sales prices seem to look more like 2009 than 2010 — before the First Time Buyer’s Credit artificially stimulated demand.” After nine months of consecutive increases, the average days on market indicator had a slight decline to 80 days in March. The 2011 average is also 80 days; compare that to 62 days in 2010. The low point was 51 days in May 2010. Loudoun had the highest month-over-month decrease to 77 days (-9 percent) while NVAR had the highest month-over-year increase to 71 days (+40 percent).

For the second consecutive month the close price to original list price ratio improved. It was 94 percent in March, 93.2 percent in February 2011 and 94.4 percent last March. Loudoun had the largest increase last month to reach 94.5 percent while Washington, DC had the largest increase compared to March 2010 to reach 93.2 percent. Average close prices advanced for all product types. The average for detached units was $462,242 in March; attached units posted an average of $324,659; and the average close price for condominiums was $275,028. The average close price for detached units in the Washington, DC market was $807,644, the result of 43 properties that sold for over $1,000,000 each last month. The highest sold price was $4,000,000.

The share of distressed sales (short sales and foreclosures) receded below 40 percent in March across the region after a sharp increase in February 2011. All local areas saw decreases in the share of distressed sales except for Prince George’s County and PWAR. The sub-market with the lowest share of distressed sales was Washington, DC at 15 percent. Rosemary deButts further commented, “March was the first month of the spring market. Disregarding 2010, sales were right on target compared to March sales in 2008 and 2009. While I don’t expect 2011 monthly sales to exceed the corresponding month in 2010 until the second half of the year, the market is behaving as expected.”


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